Tag Archives: heart attack

It’s a Reality Show In the Making

Folks, I’m just going to shoot straight with you this Saturday morning. I only have a short amount of time to write this, so I’m just going to type it, post it, and not worry about the aesthetics.

Like the title of this post says, our life is like a dad gum reality show in the making. I don’t know who would sponsor it, and I don’t know who would watch it, but there’s more that happens to us in any given week than ever takes place on a TV reality show. The DRAMA! The TRAGEDY! The COMEDY!

The only problem is that what happens in our family, should it be made into a reality TV program, would be considered made-up, fake, or overblown just to get ratings. In other words, no one would believe it.

You may be reading this with a little smirk, thinking to yourself, “Yeah, right. It couldn’t be THAT bad, Anthony. Everybody’s got their issues.” Maybe, but consider what has happened in just the last couple of weeks.

  • After 14 months out of work (except for the occasional insurance commission), I finally got through all the red tape of getting my CDL (Commercial Drivers License) back in order to drive a school bus – that story is a book to itself. THEN, I only worked 2 days before Spring Break came – without pay.
  • Friday, the last day of Spring Break, I had a heart attack which required 4 days in the hospital and 2 stents. Now I can’t drive a school bus until I’m cleared by a cardiologist.
  • Our insurance through the Marketplace changed, so NONE of our doctors were covered – we had to find new ones. The only problem is that hardly any doctors or hospitals in our area take the new insurance! SOOOO, I’m having to wait 2 weeks to see a cardiologist.
  • The day before yesterday, in the morning, on the first day I was at home from the hospital, my mother (who stays with us) wouldn’t wake up. We had to call an ambulance. I had to take a nitro pill. She went to the hospital and didn’t wake up until 8 p.m.! We still don’t know why!
  • While at the hospital, I got a little too winded, so my wife said she would push me in a wheelchair. On the way to the van she flipped her knee scooter – the one she was riding because she had a broken bone in her foot and a fractured tibia from dropping my mother’s wheelchair arm on her foot – and fell in the hospital parking lot, doing more damage to her leg…now she’s in a full-blown cast.
  • Oh, she also broke her toe in the hospital where I was being treated. She closed the reclining chair she was sleeping on and it closed on her toe.
  • When my wife and I got the wheel chair out of the van, she pushed me (imagine how that looked) into the hospital where my mom was (they moved her from the ER to a room). As she was pushing me in, she looked down as we were going through the automatic doors. They opened outward, not inward, so she ran me right into them!

We’ve had little income, more bills than money to pay them, multiple injuries and illnesses, sermons to preach, people to visit, jobs that have been lost, arguments that have escalated, death that nearly happened, and people wondering what in the world we did to deserve all that’s been happening to us for the last 25 years.

YET… God is good, all the time.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; – 2 Corinthians 4:7-8 KJV

People look at us with wonder and ask, “How do you do it?” All I can say is that “He giveth grace.”

I don’t know why we have so much happen to us. I don’t know why it’s been so hard the last year and a half, especially. It could be that Satan is trying to attack us and defeat us. It could be that the Lord is testing us.

Either way, I will not yield ground to the Enemy by giving up. I will not surrender my faith by doubting God’s goodness, mercy, and grace. I will not give up. I’ll keep getting up. I’ll keep pressing on.

I’m still not sure what I’m going to be preaching on tomorrow morning, but I can promise you one thing: The devil won’t like it.

God bless you all, and have a great weekend!

Go to church somewhere this Sunday.

Tell the networks we are ready to talk.

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Filed under blogging, Christian Living, Faith, General Observations, grace, Life Lessons, Life/Death, Love of God, ministry, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials

When There’s Been a Heart Change

Above is the view from my hospital bed at Coliseum Medical Center in Macon, Georgia. It’s not a view that compares with those my friend David Welford posts on instagram, but at least it’s a view – there were no windows in the ICU.

However, this morning my wife and I will be driving the 4-or-so hours back to Chattanooga, enjoying the view through the windshield. FREEDOM!

A  New Era

Last Friday I entered a new era in my life, one that will require lots more medication, a radical change in diet, and a physical therapy program that will probably turn into a regular workout program. I went from living life a certain way to living it a totally different way. I went from life as usual to life unexpected.

That’s what happens when you have a changed heart.

How It Happened

My heart began to change the moment I realized I was in trouble and admitted my need for help.  Had my pride said, “I can handle this…I’ll be OK,” I would have been dead.  But the painful feeling in my chest convinced me nothing I could do was going to change my condition – I needed a doctor.

The next step in my change of heart came when I submitted to the recommendations of those with whom I consulted. There was the doctor in the first hospital in Washington County who told me: “We got the results of your blood test…there’s something going on…you need to see a cardiologist tonight.” Then, several hours later, after a long ambulance ride and a lot more tests in another hospital (Coliseum), there was the cardiologist who said, “You need surgery.”

If I had rejected the recommendations of either, I would not be writing this; someone else would be writing my obituary.

The final step came when I submitted to the wisdom and ability of Dr. Nisreen Jallad and allowed her to fix what was wrong by weaving a wire up through my wrist and arm, all the way to the blocked arteries in my heart. Had I just agreed to what was needed, nothing would have changed. It was only when I put my life in her hands and allowed her to perform the scary, painful, life-saving angiogram and arterial surgery that change actually occurred.

Reassurance

Over the next couple of days, as I lay in the intensive care unit (ICU), there were times when I felt pain in my chest. Was I having another attack? More surgery?

That’s when Dr. Jallad calmly reassured me, “You came in with problems, but you are fixed…don’t worry.” All I was feeling were a combination of soreness and anxiety, not a heart attack; my heart was working fine.

What’s the next step? Live like my heart has been changed.

Evidence of Change

With a changed heart I will no longer consume the same foods; I will be on a healthier diet, one which will demand I think before I eat.

With a changed heart I will require an ongoing relationship with a cardiologist, someone who knows how the heart works and how to keep it working.

With a changed heart I will have to maintain a very specific regimen of medications for the rest of my life, else the devices in my heart will cease to perform as designed. The change was permanent, but its usefulness could be thwarted by my complacency and lack of discipline.

Spiritual Change

Can you see any comparisons to the spiritual heart? Some people claim to have had a change, but where’s the evidence?

Was there ever a moment of crisis? A moment of need? A time when you realized something was seriously wrong and there was nothing you could do to fix yourself?

Has there been a change of diet and discipline? Has the change been taken seriously?

Was there ever a surrendering to the Savior’s surgical hand, or did you simply continue as you were with only His words to contemplate?

Is there an ongoing communication with the Great Physician, the Cardiologist of the soul? Or, was that one trip to His office enough for you?

Then did a heart change really take place?

All I know is that everything changed for me the day my heart was changed.

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Filed under Christianity, fitness, Life Lessons, Life/Death, salvation

I’m Not Dead…Yet

I was behind the wheel of our Toyota sienna when my wife looked over at me and asked, “Are you OK?”

We were in a little town called Sandersville, GA,  and we had just finished walking through a small grocery store just to see what it was like.  But when I got in the van and sat behind the steering well, my chest was burning. I was a little short of breath and I was staring straight ahead. My wife had good reason to ask if I was OK, because I wasn’t:

I was having a mild heart attack.

Over four hours away from home, not counting Atlanta traffic, the last thing I wanted to do was go to the emergency room in a little town where the hospital wasn’t much bigger than a Walmart.  But knowing that chest pain isn’t something to trifle with, and especially since my wife looked worried (Who’s kidding who? I was worried, too!),  I agreed to go get checked out.

The little hospital was the best it could be, I suppose, for a little town like Sandersville. They couldn’t do much for me other than do an EKG, a chest X-ray, and a blood test.  All of the tests that they did came back negative, as in nothing was wrong. So, we got ready to leave as we awaited the results of a second blood test that needed to be done, one which was supposedly only a formality.  The only problem is that the final blood test showed that my troponin levels doubled in the three hours that I had been there…evidence something was wrong.

The emergency room doctor came back with the results and said that I needed to go see a cardiologist. My wife asked, “Just schedule an appointment with one when we get back home?” “No,” replied the doctor, “he needs to be transported by ambulance to another hospital right now.”  Unfortunately, the nearest ambulance to the hospital was still two hours away! So, the waiting began.

When the ambulance finally got there, we decided to go to the nearest hospital that was in the direction of home. So, we decided on a hospital in Macon, GA.  An hour later I arrived at Coliseum Medical Centers. #coliseumhealthsystem.com

All I can say is that I praise God this happened down here when it did, because this place is so much better than Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. Everyone down here, from housekeeping to the nurses to the cardiologist, has been absolutely wonderful!  They have treated me like I was their only patient.  If I had been at Erlanger, it would’ve taken me four hours to get a bedpan.  But I digress.

Anyway, long story short, more tests were run on me here which led to the discovery  that I had blockages in all four main arteries in my heart, two of which were blocked 90%.  A few hours later I was in surgery receiving 2 to 3 stents, depending on how you measure them (one was as long as two). Other than when they numbed my wrist, I felt everything. No kidding, it hurt.

But I’m alive.

Come to find out, I’ve had heart problems for a while. When I have had pain in the past, all that was done were EKGs and stress tests. But nothing ever showed that I had blockages of any kind.  None of the places in Chattanooga ever did a heart catheterization.

My dad died at 46 with a heart attack. My grandfather died at 53.  I’m 51. Am I blessed, or what?

But here’s the thing: I’m going to die one day, and so are you.  Unless the rapture takes place, everyone of us have an appointment with death. It doesn’t matter how many times we go to the hospital and get fixed, these old bodies will eventually break down the last time  and we will enter into eternity.

My only hope for you, dear reader, is that you have the same hope and peace that I have.  That hope and peace is found in my Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of Him, when I take my last breath, I know where I will spend eternity.

I’m not dead…yet. But because of the blood Jesus Christ shed for my sins, I’ll be more alive that day than I am right now.

I’m ready to go. Are you?

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Filed under Christianity, current events, fitness, Life/Death, Struggles and Trials

Stupid Chest Pain! (Remembered)

The following post was written on 9/29/2013 – NOT today! But I’m thankful to the Lord for what He has brought me through over the last 4 years.


Not Again!

Earlier in the year (maybe late last year) I had been having chest pain. At one point I was literally afraid I was having a heart attack. Yet, after extensive humiliation, all tests came back negative (which is actually a positive).

Well, here we go again. More chest pain – in the same place – and more tests. Friday night I went to the ER just to be safe (and to make certain people be quiet). That’s when I got the same questions, the same initial tests, and the same evil looks from self-righteous, healthy, gym-membership-owning nurses who know I need to lose weight.

However, this time was a little different from times in the past.

What Am I?

When my wife and I first got to the hospital, I walked up to the desk and was greeted by a not-so-sweet lady with a clip board. “What’s the reason for your visit?” she asked. “Um, well, it’s a chest pain thing,” I answered. Then, without looking up she hands me a clip board and says, “Fill this out and sign at the bottom, then take a seat.”

In a moment or two I am triaged and taken to have chest x-rays. When I got to the room for the x-ray the technician asked to see my arm band (for identification). They had not given me one.

Later, while lying in bed and hooked up to monitoring devices, a hospital rep came in to ask me a lot of personal questions. They needed to know about any medications, whether or not I had insurance, and about previous illnesses or surgeries. Among the questions were the following:

  • “Mr. Baker, are you now, or have you ever been pregnant?” she asked. “I know I may look it, but no,” was my reply.
  • “Are you on any type of birth control medication?” That’s when I looked at her with the same look that Gary Coleman used to have when he said, What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

Now folks, I have had little kids come up to me, touch my belly, and ask, “Are you having a baby?” But honestly, either my wife has been secretly poisoning me with estrogen, or this woman must have thought I was one ugly woman in a lesbian relationship. Why would she ask such questions? You’d think my facial hair, low voice, and Adam’s apple would be a dead giveaway!

Signing Out

Fortunately, the ER doctor decided not to admit me. He said they wouldn’t be able to do an arteriogram over the weekend, so I might as well go home and take nitrates until next week when I talk to a cardiologist. Who knows? I might be in bad shape, but we will have to wait.

So, after talking with the doctor, he said: “I’ll have them bring in your paperwork, then you’ll be free to go home.”

Guess what was written on the prescription?

Name: Anthony Baker   Sex: Female

Should I change my name to Antonia? !!


UPDATE: It is now 9/29/2017 and my name’s still Anthony :-)… and my chest is fine.

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Filed under fitness, General Observations, Humor

“It was Jesus”: A Testimony of Faith and Praise

I am a blogger, a semi-professional writer, but my wife is not: she’s an accountant. Valerie deals with numbers all the time, not words.

However, when Valerie does write, she has a flair all her own, one that I could never duplicate…one you will enjoy. Therefore, when she recounted to me the conversation she had yesterday with her gynecologist, I knew you needed to hear it…

In her words.

So, what you are about to read are the words of my wife, Valerie. I’m turning over the keyboard to her.


I feel that to do the Lord the justice that He deserves, I need to go back about 12 years.  I had a complete hysterectomy, including my ovaries, when sweet Haley was maybe 4 years old.  Please understand this was not as a form of birth control; no, I would have had more children if I could have.  (I really do not know if Anthony and I had discussed more – maybe it was just me, but either way, you know who would have won that battle!)  I was very lucky to have the last two children that I had and am very thankful.

During the three-day hospital stay after having the hysterectomy, my sweet husband was by my side – sure wish I had pictures! Yes, he was sleeping on the chair/bed for the visitor who is crazy enough to stay.  The funny part is that I was hotter than I’d ever been and he was colder than he had ever been.  You see, on day two, it just happened to be the coldest day of winter that we had that year.  I looked over as I sat on the bed with only a hospital gown and panties on, to him with a toboggan, a winter coat zipped up tight, and several blankets.  I had the air conditioning on in the room and still was hot!  I guess I could have opened the windows, but I didn’t think about it.

Now, we lived in KY at the time.  After having two bad experiences at the local hospital (Jenny Stuart, but nick-named “Killer Stuart”) our family drove to the next closest hospital which was about 40 minutes away.  I was released just after lunch on day three.  I was still just burning up!  I had the window down and my head sticking out going down the Pennyrile Parkway in something-teen-degree weather.  Anthony?  He still had that same coat, toboggan, and now gloves on.  Somehow I figure this was a faster drive than usual.

I had a patch on my arm with hormones that I was supposed to wear five days, remove two days, and then apply a new patch for five days.  After the second day of the second patch, I ripped it off and Jesus and I had a little chat that went something like this:

Me: Jesus, you know that I did not desire this hysterectomy.

Me: Are you there?  I said I did not desire this hysterectomy!  I wanted more children…. (by now the tears are coming).

Jesus:  (He did not audibly speak to me, but the Word of God sure came flying at me.)  Be happy in whatever state you are in.  Be content with what you have.  I am here.  I will help you.  I love you.

Me:  Ok, I will be content and happy, but I really need for you to handle the hormone part because really just can not take the patches.

Jesus: (I waited….)

Well, things were much better.

In 2007 or 2008, I had my yearly exam at the gynecologist.  While waiting in the exam room, I was reading the poster on the back of the door about the pros and cons of estrogen.  Looked to me like the cons were medical complications and problems, and all the pros were for pleasure and nothing really medical at all.  After the exam, my doctor always leaves and has me dress and then the nurse will come and get me to take me to his office where he sits across the desk and talks to me about his findings and makes suggestions, etc.  While I was waiting for the nurse, I snapped a picture of the chart on the back of the door.

Once in his office, he began the spill that I had heard for year after year about how important estrogen is and how much better I would feel.  I brought up the poster on the door and he said, “The cons rarely ever happen.  In fact, I have never had a patient experience any of those problems.  So that year he convinced me.  I left and went to Target to get my estrogen prescription.

Two days later, Anthony and I were at the mall shopping (not my favorite thing.) and he said, “I wish you felt better.  We hardly ever get to do this.”  I told him if I could just vomit I though I would be better.  The next day, I went to work and I felt really bad.  I never even thought about the estrogen as the cause.  I was so really achy.  Could this be the flu?  I worked later than usual trying to get things finished up so when I was driving home I hit major traffic on I-24.  I typically drove the van, but for some reason that day was in the Honda Accord, which happened to be a 5-speed.  I remember my right arm hurting so badly that I was clutching with my left foot, holding the steering wheel straight with my right knee, and shifting with my left hand.  Traffic was c r a w l i n g!

Anthony NEVER meets me at the door when I come home unless I phone ahead and ask him to come out and help carry stuff in. That day, he did.  He opened the door, looked at me, and then said, “You look awful!”  It did not even hurt my feelings; my reply was only that I needed to read about female heart attacks.  I had all but two of the symptoms.  Needless to say, we headed straight to the ER.  My initial EKG was just a little off, nothing to worry too much about.  Other tests were showing things getting worse and a second EKG was not good.  I kept telling them, “It’s the ESTROGEN!” and they kept ignoring me.  I was admitted for further testing.  I finally got the floor doctor to hear me.  He didn’t believe that to be the cause but did tell me to call my GYN and have him come remove the estrogen.  I did it myself.  That was early morning.  As the day progressed, my test  results were getting better and better.  I fully expected to be going home.

But I have a daddy who has a lengthy heart history that was not impressing the doctor to make rash decisions.  My dad told my brother to make sure the doctor knows the family wants him to do a heart cath because my dad’s heart attacks never showed up on the early tests, but always ended up with stents after having a heart cath.  Well, the doctor agreed.  So here I go the next day into a very scary procedure.  I left with a clean bill of health, heart-wise, but with a diagnosis of “chemically induced heart attack. Listed in my chart was, “Allergic reaction to estrogen.”

Now, let’s finally fast forward to yesterday (4/19/2017). My yearly exam with the gynecologist.  Even though I have told him that estrogen had thrown me into a “chemically induced heart attack,” he tends to think it was co-incidence.  Each year we have that same talk, and each year I remind him.  This year was different.

Yesterday, I was waiting in his office admiring his children and cool artwork when he came in and sat behind the desk.

“Valerie,” he said, “I do not have you down as taking any kind of replacement hormones, and if my memory serves me correctly, you aren’t.”

I said, “No.”

He said, “I didn’t think so, but looking at your cells under a microscope, I am very surprised  – at your age and having no ovaries – to find that your cells look very estrogenized.”

He was puzzled to be sure!  I said in a very every-day, casual voice, “Oh, that is Jesus!” He looked up at me with a questioning expression.  I continued, “Years ago I told Jesus that I did not want to have a hysterectomy and that I had wanted more children and since I had to have one anyway, I asked him to take care of the hormones …and he has!”  He took it in and shook his head, looking back down to the chart, and then asked a more personal, intimate question that I really do not want to share on here… again, he was surprised.  I quickly added, “that is Jesus, too.”

You just never know where the opportunity to share Jesus will come up.  Even though I did not get the chance to tell him all about the Good News, I know a seed was planted.  I wonder how he slept last night?

– Valerie J. Baker

So, did you like what Valerie wrote? Let her know in the comment section.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Faith, God, Guest Posts, Prayer, worship

Social Media Done Right

What Happened

Good Monday morning, everyone! I’m glad to be alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic! How about you?

Friday morning was a bummer, that’s for sure; I was alive, but not enthusiastic. Friday morning I was suffering from some unnerving chest pain. Let me tell you what happened.

Friday morning I was going over some stuff at my computer. Actually, it was some papers outlining what was needed for me to start back to school, this time for an M.Div. at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. To be honest, they stressed me out. As I sat there, the left side of my chest began to hurt worse and worse. The pain continued for nearly half an hour.

Finally, I went to my wife and told her what was going on. I had my doubts what I was experiencing was heart-related, but there was no way for me to be sure, therefore my wife insisted I go to the emergency room at Memorial Hospital here in Chattanooga.

The pain started around 11 a.m., but we didn’t get to the E.R. until around 1:30. Thanks to a lot of people there before me, I was triaged and sent back to the lobby to wait…and wait…and wait. Finally, at 4:40 I was taken back to a bed in the E.R., then admitted to the CDU (Clinical Decision Unit) at 8:08 p.m. For the first time in my adult life I was made to stay in a hospital overnight.

On Saturday morning, after having my blood drawn twice the night before, I was ready for some food. What I was not ready for was the heart-healthy crap they feed you in a hospital. For crying out loud, you’d think a multi-thousand dollar hospital bed would sleep better than it did, but then to feed me bland oatmeal and decaffeinated coffee? Torture, I tell you!

After breakfast I was taken for a nuclear stress test. Between injections, waiting, and treading on the mill till I thought I’d die, that was another 2 1/2 hours. But come around 11 a.m. I was being released – NO heart problems! Hallelujah!

Right before I was released on Saturday morning. Encouraged by prayer notifications.

Right before I was released on Saturday morning. Encouraged by prayer notifications and “OK.”

But now my knee hurts from the tread mill. Oh well.

Done Right

Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and all our blogs, can be used for a lot of selfish and cynical reasons. But this past weekend, as my inbox will attest, there are times when the internet proves its usefulness.

From the time I first got to the hospital till the time I was checking out, my wife was responsible for sending and checking all the messages. Because of what she wrote others picked up the ball and began to run. Before too long there were people all over the world praying for me, many of which I didn’t even know.

Then, this morning, a fellow blogger showed up right after our morning church service, just to come pray with me. Do you have any idea how much that means?

Folks, I have been tremendously blessed to have friends and family, both in person and over the web, who care enough to intercede for me. It reminds me of the story in the book of Nehemiah, the story where the people were spread out working on the wall, linked together by only a trumpet’s call. But when the enemy struck the trumpet would sound, and that’s where all the people would gather to fight (sorta like what the R.A.F. did during the Battle of Britain).

In the right hands social media became the rallying trumpet, calling those spread far and wide to the aid of one lone wall builder.

The wall still stands; the defenses held.

Thank you for caring and coming to my aid!

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Filed under blogging, Christian Unity, Relationships and Family

Stupid Chest Pain!

Not Again!

Earlier in the year (maybe late last year) I had been having chest pain. At one point I was literally afraid I was having a heart attack. Yet, after extensive humiliation, all tests came back negative (which is actually a positive).

Well, here we go again. More chest pain – in the same place – and more tests. Friday night I went to the ER just to be safe (and to make certain people be quiet). That’s when I got the same questions, the same initial tests, and the same evil looks from self-righteous, healthy, gym-membership-owning nurses who know I need to lose weight.

However, this time was a little different from times in the past.

What Am I?

When my wife and I first got to the hospital, I walked up to the desk and was greeted by a not-so-sweet lady with a clip board. “What’s the reason for your visit?” she asked. “Um, well, it’s a chest pain thing,” I answered. Then, without looking up she hands me a clip board and says, “Fill this out and sign at the bottom, then take a seat.”

In a moment or two I am triaged and taken to have chest x-rays. When I got to the room for the x-ray the technician asked to see my arm band (for identification). They had not given me one.

Later, while lying in bed and hooked up to monitoring devices, a hospital rep came in to ask me a lot of personal questions. They needed to know about any medications, whether or not I had insurance, and about previous illnesses or surgeries. Among the questions were the following:

  • “Mr. Baker, are you now, or have you ever been pregnant?” she asked. “I know I may look it, but no,” was my reply.
  • “Are you on any type of birth control medication?” That’s when I look at her with the same look that Gary Coleman used to have when he said, What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

Now folks, I have had little kids come up to me, touch my belly, and ask, “Are you having a baby?” But honestly, either my wife has been secretly poisoning me with estrogen, or this woman must have though I was one ugly woman in a lesbian relationship. Why would she ask such questions? You’d think my facial hair, low voice, and Adam’s apple would be a dead giveaway!

Signing Out

Fortunately, the ER doctor decided not to admit me. He said they wouldn’t be able to do an arteriogram over the weekend, so I might as well go home and take nitrates until next week when I talk to a cardiologist. Who knows? I might be in bad shape, but we will have to wait.

So, after talking with the doctor, he said: “I’ll have them bring in your paperwork, then you’ll be free to go home.”

Guess what was written on the prescription?

Name: Anthony Baker   Sex: Female

Should change my name to Antonia? !!

In all seriousness, I would appreciate your prayers. I still feel pain and have little energy. It would be great to find out what is wrong (as inexpensively as possible).

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Filed under fitness, General Observations, Humor